Every four years, millions of volunteers travel around the country in support of their candidate of choice, often setting up shop in battleground states. That means a whole lot of people need short-term housing arrangements, and frequently those volunteers need to find places to stay in locations where housing doesn’t come easy. To help them with the inevitable search for a couch to crash on, travel startup Tripping is introducing new sites for volunteers in both political camps.
With different sites for both Obama and Romney volunteers, the startup is launching Political Tripping, which will let volunteers choose from more than 750,000 couches, apartments, and home rentals. But more than just housing, the initiative is also aimed at making connections between volunteers and the local people in battleground states that they’re operating in.
It’s the community aspect that Tripping hopes will set it apart from some other options out there. Tripping founder Jen O’Neal said that in addition to free local homestays, volunteers also can check out profiles of locals and talk to them to better understand the issues on the ground. They can also check out listings of fellow Democrats or Republicans in the same area.
Of course, Tripping isn’t the first startup to use the political campaign season as a way to get more people familiar with its service. Airbnb famously got its start back during the 2008 campaign season, also helping political volunteers find places to stay in various battleground states. Since then, there’s been a ton of activity around the so-called “sharing economy,” in which regular people offer up their homes, cars, expertise, and other goods for sale through a growing number of social applications and networks.
A TechCrunch Disrupt alum, Tripping has six employees and has raised a total of $1 million in seed funding. Investors include Quest Venture Partners, Draper Associates, and Launch Capital.